Upset special opportunity missed for Tonganoxie High boys
Tonganoxie High has faced the gauntlet in the early going this season.
The Chieftains still were searching for their first victory of the season Monday entering the Tonganoxie Invitational Tournament.
THS nearly found what it was looking for in a big way in facing off against No. 4 Wamego.
Tonganoixe trailed early, 3-2, but a steady-wins-the-race offense and an aggressive defense helped the Chieftains push in front and frustrate the visiting Raiders well into the second half. THS led, 13-8, after a quarter and 20-16 at halftime.
It wasn’t until the 4:22 mark of the third quarter that Wamego retook the lead, 24-22.
A 13-2 run that spilled over into the fourth quarter and Tonganoxie backed up against the wall, but the Chieftains fought back. Trailing by as many as 11 (35-24), the Chiftains clawed their way back into the game, as timely Chandler Caldwell buckets helped the team stay within striking distance in the fourth quarter. THS pulled to within 4 on two occasions, but it wasn’t enough as the upset bid fell short, 49-42, keeping THS winless on the season (0-7).
The tournament game came nearly a week after a late rally nearly helped THS knock off Bonner Springs on Jan. 10.
The team is making strides, but Hillmon said his team was done with moral victories. Monday’s game stung because the team had a game plan that the team was properly executing against a Wamego team the Chieftains had on the ropes at times.
“We’ve shown that we can compete with the best of them,” Hillmon said. “Not just in the league, but state. We’re ready to take that next step.”
Caldwell led the team with a game-high 15 points, while Dylan Kleidosty chipped in eight. Mac Thomson had six points in the loss.
Wamego’s Dillan Blain had a game-high 18, while Sean Nordberg also was in double figures with 11.
THS shot 43 percent from the field in the first half and 35 percent from the field in the second half. Wamego started cold, shooting 32 percent in the first half, but hitting 50 percent in the second.
The Chieftains had the rebounding edge, 31-29, but the Raiders had the advantage in free throws(10-4), points off turnovers (12-3) and second-chance points (16-5). Tonganoxie did connect on four three-pointers compared to Wamego’s three.
Tonganoxie is back at it at 7:30 p.m. Thursday with consolation bracket play against Holton.
“I love our guys,” Hillmon said. “I love our locker room.”
Wamego 49, THS 42
Score by quarters
THS — 13 7 4 18 — 42
WHS — 8 8 17 16 —49
THS — Chandler Caldwell 15, Dakota Grey 4, Mac Thompson 6, Isaiah Frese 2, Mason Beach 3, Dylan Kleidosty 8, Keaotn Rickard 4.
WHS — Sean Nordberg 11, Justin Ebert 5, Jayson Ebert 7, Matt Keller 6, Jacob Land 2, Dillon Blain 18.